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Crafting a Good Invoice for Your Business

By Paul Dughi Reviewed By Mike Lucas
By Paul Dughi
By Paul Dughi Reviewed By Mike Lucas

Once you’ve made a sale or provided a service, you want to get paid. One of the best ways to make sure that happens is to create an invoice with everything your customers need to process for payment. We’ll show you what your invoices need, provide examples of good invoices, and link to free invoice generators.

What Your Invoice Should Include

Invoices don’t need to be complex. In fact, you should try to make them simple and straight-forward.

It starts with the basics. It needs to be easy to read. Your customer should be able to tell immediately who it’s from, what it’s for, when they need to pay, and how you expect to be paid. The more complex you make it, the more confusing it might be for the customer. That could lead to the invoice sitting on someone’s desk or causing the customer to call with questions rather than just promptly paying it.

Your Information

Your invoice should have the basic information someone would need to immediately recognize your business and how you want to be paid. Name, address, phone number, and email should be listed. If you prefer customers to contact specific people or offices for questions, include that information as well. For example, you may want to include the phone number for the person who handles accounts receivable in your business.

Customer Information

List complete information, including name, address, phone number and contact name for the customer. If it’s a business, make sure to use the company’s legal name.

Payment Terms

It’s important that you list your expected payment terms. This includes the due date and whether you add late fees if the payment is received after the due date. What terms you list are up to you as long as they accurately reflect what you’ve agreed to do.

 Invoice Payment Terms Example

Here are some of the more common payment terms that companies use:

  • Due immediately upon receipt
  • Net 7 (Due 7 days after invoice date)
  • Net 10 (Due 30 days after invoice date)
  • Net 30 (Due 30 days after invoice date)
  • Net 60 (Due 60 days after invoice date)

Methods of Payment

Make it clear what methods of payment you accept. If you have a preferred method, make sure to note that.  If you accept credit cards, online payments, PayPal, Venmo, or other online payment services, list it on the invoice.

Invoice Number

You should always include an invoice number that is unique to each customer and each bill. This makes it easier to find in case there are questions, or when it’s time to match payments with invoices. If an invoice goes unpaid, you can also refer to the invoice number in follow-up attempts to collect or in statements.

Products or Services Rendered

List the specific product(s) or service(s) rendered and the date of purchase or completion. Separate costs and any other expenses, such as tax or shipping. List each item and put the total at the bottom.

Invoice Wording Examples

Always use a professional-looking template when you are creating invoices. Keep your language professional as well. It’s OK to add a personal note as long as the message is clear: You expect to be paid a certain amount by a certain date for the goods or services you’ve provided.

Example Invoice Template

Here’s an invoice example that provides everything you need to request payment for products or flat-fee services.


Service Invoice

Make sure you fill out all the basic information, list the services you provided and the date, and the amount you’re charging. Add in any additional charges, such as tax or delivery, and total it up.

A good source for free online templates is eForms, which has blank invoices you can itemize in a variety of categories customized for more than two dozen businesses. Here are a few service invoice examples.

SOURCE: eForms

Consulting Invoice Examples

When creating a consultant invoice, you will want to detail the services you’re providing and whether it’s a flat fee or hourly billing. If you are charging by the hour, list the number of hours you worked, the hourly rate and the total. For example, if you worked 20 hours and charge $50 an hour, you’ll want to detail that along with the $1,000 total for that line.

Here’s an example of a free online template for consulting from FreshBooks, an online accounting software provider.

If you use PayPal, you can generate invoices directly from the online payment portal. Here’s a consulting invoice example of what it looks like.


Commercial Invoice Examples

A commercial invoice is used for international shipping. The commercial invoice is used by customs to determine whether there are duty fees owed. It requires additional information such as country of origin, final destination, export route and carrier, and terms of freight.

Here’s a commercial invoice example that can be downloaded for free at Commercial Business Forms.

SOURCE:  Commercial Business Forms

Sources for Invoice Templates

If you’re using accounting software, such as QuickBooks, you can create invoices easily. You can automate generation, set up tracking, schedule recurring invoices, and apply payments from the software.

If you’re looking for free templates to use online, here are some additional resources:

Paul Dughi Contributing Writer at Fast Capital 360
Paul Dughi has held executive management positions in the media industry for the past 25 years. He earned his master of business administration degree while working full-time as president of a multistation television group. He is the author of two books on marketing and management.
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